The Frank Camaratta Story
Frank Camaratta is the internationally recognized expert in antique Staunton and other playing sets. He has been a serious collector and researcher into antique playing chess sets, their design and history, since 1986. His serious research, which started in 1989, was centered on Jaques and other Staunton chessmen and quickly expanded into Pre-Staunton playing sets.
Mr. Camaratta is a serious chess tournament player, National title holder, International Chess Master, Collector and Historian with a broad educational and professional background. He purchases and sells chess collections, large and small, and has provided numerous appraisal and research services. In addition, Mr. Camaratta has brokered the sale of several large collections in the States and over-seas. In 1990, Mr. Camaratta founded The House of Staunton, Inc. and later, The House of Staunton Antiques, LLC.
When building the House of Staunton, Frank wanted to produce chessmen that captured the feel and exquisite old-World craftsmanship found in those early Jaques Staunton pattern chess sets. In line with that pursuit, he needed to recreate the masterful workmanship of the Knights which were derived from the noble steeds whose visages are captured in the Parthenon frieze (expropriated in 1806 by Thomas Bruce, 7th Lord of Elgin and since referred to as the Elgin Marbles). The distinctive, finely detailed Knight head was the hallmark of the original Staunton design. that unique feature is evident in every Exquisite set of House of Staunton chessmen designed by M. Camaratta.
Frank has extensive professional experience in the Aircraft and Aerospace industry. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Aerospace Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. He served as Chief of Structures for the Sikorsky Aircraft Div. of UTC and as Director of Engineering for the Solid Rocket Boosters on the Space Shuttle prior to his retirement from UTC in 1998, at the age of 56, to devote his full attention to the House of Staunton, Inc., and to further his research on playing chess sets.
Frank Camaratta has written several articles and has given numerous lectures on the subject of the Staunton chessmen. Among his lectures were those given at the 1990 Bi-Annual meeting of the Chess Collector’s International convention in New York, and again in 1992 in Paris and in 2006 in Miami, Florida. His articles and writings include “On Collecting Staunton Chessmen” in the November, 2008, issue of Chess Life and “The Mysterious Night Move,” postulating the Origin of the Knight move which was published in the October, 2008 issue of Chess Life, among other sources.
His research categorized the various Staunton designs and their evolution starting with their introduction in September of 1849 and uncovered the little-known errors in the registration discs found under the bases of Jaques Staunton chessmen and on their labels in the late 1850s. He was also the first person to explain and catalog the Manufacturing labels for the Jaques chessmen. His research has
helped thousands of collectors to uncover fraud so prevalent with these antique chessmen.
He is currently working on his latest book, The Staunton Chessmen and Their Predecessors, which includes a detailed history of the Staunton chessmen, particularly Jaques of London, as well as their contemporary competitors. His research describes the style of chessmen that were prevalent before the advent of the Staunton chessmen along with a copious number of supporting photographs and associated history.
Frank’s favorite and most significant historical find was a partial set of Wedgwood Carrara Chessmen, and their corresponding Carton-Pierre casket bearing an original Howard Staunton signed label and set number (Entered No. #24) from 1849. It is the only Known example of the Jaques Wedgwood Carrara chessmen.
Frank Camaratta Biography
Born 1943 (older than dirt!), Philadelphia, PA. Frank A. Camaratta, Jr. Mother Raymonde Gilda Camaratta, Father: Frank A Camaratta The “A” doesn’t stand for anything. Sisters: Josephine (b. 1946), and Arlene (1949-1995), Brother Joseph (b. 1964!), Mother came to the US from Canada during the depression, one of 6. Father orphaned at 4, one of 17.
Raised in South and West Philadelphia. Attended Monsignor Bonner High School in Upper Darby, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. Attended Drexel Institute of Technology (Now Drexel University) in Philadelphia, Pa. B.S. Mechancial Engineering 1967. Graduated summa cum laude, MS Applied Mechanics (among other degrees), 1968. Graduated summa cum laude. Drove a beer truck in South Philadelphia for my Uncle while attending Drexel – was very popular with the residents!
Married to Maria Karpchuk 1965, three sons, Marc, Christopher, and Matthew, Remarried in 1992 to Gwen Sheppard. Three step children, Sheppard, Rebecca and Arnette.
Worked as an Engineer and analyst for the Department of the Navy, (Naval Air Engineering Center and Naval Air Systems Command) from 1968 through 1978).
Opened and operated the C&V Slot Car Raceway in Philadelphia in 1967. Started a business which Designed Custom Sound systems for homes and offices in 1972. Active in Junior JCs in the 1970s.
Worked for United Technologies Corporation in several Divisions in Connecticut and Florida as a Section Chief, Branch Manager and Department Head through 1998. Responsibilities Engineering Analysis, Systems Engineering, Reliability and Maintainability, Materials and Processes, Structures and Dynamics and Program Management for aircraft and Space Shuttle systems. (I other words, they couldn’t find anything that I was competent to do, so they kept trying!)
Retired in 1998 to run the House of Staunton, full-time, which I started in 1990. Dealt in antique chess products and designed the House of Staunton brand chess sets and boards. Patented the GameTime Programmable digital chess timer, the very first Time Delay and Increment clock which is universally copied today.
Learned to play chess at age 16. OTB Master, ICCF International Master. Abandoned serious OTB play around 1972 due to family and professional pressures. Entered Correspondence chess in 1972. Played in the USCF Golden Knights and three USCF Absolute Championships (1977, 1978, 1979) with some success. In the 1977 Absolute, placed 2nd; 1978 Absolute, took 1st place; 1979 Absolute, placed 2nd. Successfully represented the US Correspondence Chess Olympic team on first Board (scored 7.5-3.5).
Taught chess in grade schools and adult evening schools. Gave numerous exhibitions in High Schools, prisons and convalescent homes for children with MS and MD. Formed several chess clubs, most successful The Shoreline Chess Club of Madison, CT, in 1980, Active in USCF at the Committee level in the 1980s (Formed the Computer Rating Agency and wrote the procedures, started and wrote the original guidelines for induction to the Hall of Fame,Served on the Correspondence Chess, Rules and Finance Committees. Chaired the LMA and Ratings committees). Became a politician (not a very successful one) in 1990. Elected Vice President in 1990, Treasurer in 1993, and again to the Executive Board in 2001 as V.P of Finance and now Member at large.
Active in Chess Collectors International (CCI). Have written several articles on Chess and Chess Collecting. Donated numerous artifacts for display at the World Chess Hall of Fame and Sid Samole Chess Museum in Miami,Florida. Hobbies include woodworking, automobile racing, baseball, board games, music and antique chess set collecting.